The Last of the Adventures in Chicagoland

Here we go:  part II of the Chicago chronicles.  Friday was an awesome start to the weekend, and thanks to the beautiful 80 degree weather and some amazing people, Saturday and Sunday were even better.

Since bootcamp (and work) has my body programmed to rise with the sun, Saturday morning kicked off pretty early with some coffee and a little romping around the city before settling on a breakfast spot: Eggsperience.


Honestly, this is one of my favorite breakfast spots, ever. There were a million options, tons of ways to substitute and create your own, and everything that came out looked delicious.

Since eggs are one of the easiest clean eating options for breakfast, that’s what I got – three eggs scrambled with broccoli, mushroom, and turkey sausage.

eggsperience: egg scramble

This breakfast was both the best and the worst idea we had all weekend.  It was great because I was starving and needed food (fuel) to get through the 10:45 Flywheel class – and it was bad for the same reason.

Last October Dar and I took our first ‘scouting’ trip up to Chicago and took two classes at Flywheel with Candy.  We didn’t know her at all, or what we were getting ourselves into, but she is Awesome, with a capital A.  Since our visit we’ve kept in contact with Candy and made sure (with her help) that we made it into her class.  That being said, her class was an hour of complete intensity and probably the highest energy class all around that I’ve ever been in — but half way through eating seemed like it might have been a mistake.

flywheel gold coast

Regardless, we got a killer ride in before 12pm,  just in time to make it to lunch with a good friend, and rounded out the afternoon with a short(ish) shopping tour of the city.  That’s about the point where I lost Dar’s interest and ventured solo around the best Nordstrom Rack I’ve ever been to (after the standard trip into the lululemon on Rush Street of course).  I almost don’t want to share the primal experience that shoe and jeans shopping for me at a place like ‘the rack,’ but I have no problem saying this: it was something to behold.

By some miracle I managed to make it back to the hotel and get ready for another dinner out with the Charlottesville crew (me, Anita, Dar and her best boyfriend Uday…) at Cantina Loredo.

cantina loredo

This was probably my favorite meal of the weekend- amazing drinks, awesome food, and a great atmosphere.  It’s the kind of high end mexican food that provides awesome food choices and modified options for clean eating.

That being said, we started out with some really great guacamole and chips, per the requirements of any good vacation, alongside the obligatory margaritas and mimosas.


Our entrees were equally as good – salads, tacos, and the like.


cantina loredo

After dinner we headed out for a few more drinks at Fado, which I was psyched to see since it was a bar I really loved when I was living in Philly.

chicago: dar val anita

After Fado we made our last and final stop at RPM where we had the classic vacation late-night snacks.

Zucchini chips and a pepperoni pizzetta.  So, so good.

zucchini chips

RPM italian

It was our last night in the city, and an awesome way to cap off the urban portion of the trip.

Sunday I went with Dar out to her cousin Jeff’s house for the last day of the trip, and had an awesome time hanging out in the pool, watching movies, and pretty much just relaxing with the whole fam damily.

cusibians in chicago

It was an awesome trip, and a pretty tough place to leave, but it was time to get back to real life, and all the work that has to happen in these next few weeks to get Fight Gone MAD open in Charlottesville.

Welcome Back to Chicagoland

I can’t remember the last time I took a legitimate vacation away from work, constant internet connection, and phone dependency.  What originally was going to be a work-focused trip to Chicago with Dar quickly transformed into an extended weekend away with some great friends, and amazing weather – with business sprinkled in to the daytime hours.

Chicago: River + City

Despite the early flight time, long travel hours, and airport lethargy (I’d be great at traveling if it weren’t for the travel part) – we were there by 12pm on Friday, right in time for lunch on the river.

We sat right outside with a table RIGHT on the river, so close in fact we personally met all of the fine folks that were parking their boats and shimmying up to the restaurant for lunch and drinks.

lunch on the river

We were bought a round of drinks courtesy of one of our new friends, and had an extended conversation with the restaurants owner about Chicago, fitness, and his previous home of 10 years: Charlotte!

Friday afternoon drinks: Lunch on the River

After a long morning of travel, this was exactly what we needed.  After lunch, in the spirit of vacation, we did our own vacation rituals and listened to our own personal needs; Dar went to the hotel and took a long nap, and I adventured around the city and got my nails done (with a few extra turns and city street wandering).

edna ring

When I travel to different places I usually bring at least one special piece of jewelry that at one time belonged to my grandmother (my mom’s mom, Edna May).  She was always taking trips with her girlfriends, taking in new cities, cultures, and I think just space out of what seemed like a super static life.  I totally get that. There’s always something freeing about traveling to a new place and thinking about what could be, what additional experiences and communities could be built – ultimately helping to re-instire, direct, or even simply appreciate the life back at home.

This trip was a lot of that for me, and it was awesome to have a little piece of my grandmother there with me, adventuring and seeing my world from a different vantage point.

After my adventures around town it was time for dinner, and a little check in back with our Cville lives since Anita + Uday (two of our favorite bootcampers AND and neighborhood organizers) were in town to take over Chicagoland with us.   They organized a progressive dinner tour on Friday night with our first stop at Bin 36.

BIN 36: chicago

This first stop was the ‘wine + appetizer’ stop on the dinner tour, and it proved to be perfect for just that.

wine flights

I chose the ‘some like it sweet’ wine flight, which was awesome.  Dar was actually the only flight of reds, but we all chose different pairings.

table of wine: Bin 36

The second stop was David Burke’s Prime House (steak house), with more wine, and steak.

chicago: steakhouse

Huge steaks.

Prime House: Filet

And three amazing, enormous, sides of food for the group.

The asparagus was awesome: tender roasted w/a poached egg in the center.

asparagus w/poached egg

Spinach Gnocchi with a fresh spinach center and a cream sauce.  I dripped off a bunch of the sauce, leaving just a light glaze on top for flavor.  Unreal.

spinach gnocci

I also need to go back to the beginning and make note of the exceptional rolls that they have – like a sweet pastry puff with asiago cheese toasted on top.

wine and rolls


So, it’s pretty safe to say that the weekend started out with a little less health + fitness than normal, and a little more eating + drinking.

The trend only continued the later we pushed into Friday night with dessert at Sable (the gastropub at Hotel Palomar), and even more fun with the whole group.

dessert at sable


The top dessert was the Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake with bourbon ice cream, and the bottom was the Cookies and Cream Ice Box cake.

By 11:30 (or really 8:30, but who’s keeping track?) my eyelids were struggling to stay up, and despite being the youngest of the group I was the first to call it a night.  In my defense, it was really 12:30 my time…

So that’s the start to the Chicago adventure – and a great start to the sequel of last October’s epic Chi-town trip.  The rest of the weekend was even more eventful than the first half, which will be apparent in the next post!

Anyone else secretly (or not so secretly) want to live in Chicago, if there was no winter?  Seriously, if the winter were just half as brutal I think I would have to live there – since that’s not seeming likely I guess I’ll just have to work on my half-year plan to live there in the summer.